Michael ‘Mike’ Hall is a man who went from performing casual physical work to gracing TV screens all around the world, simply because he had a passion that became everyone else’s too. The Mayhem Entertainment production company found what Mike had to offer highly intriguing at the least, eventually approaching the History Channel with their discovery. Then, just like that, “Rust Valley Restorers” was born, debuting in 2018.

The series follows Mike, his friend Avery Shoaf, and occasionally his son Connor Charman-Hall as they travel across the US, gathering cars so old and unusable they’re considered common wreckage. The restoration process then gets underway at Mike’s Rust Bros Restorations, turning the vehicle from scrap metal into a veritable ride that can compete with the market’s finest.

Mike Hall is a well-known name in the world of classic car restoration, the co-owner and head mechanic of Rust Valley Restorers, a business based in Tappen, British Columbia. Hall has been restoring classic cars since the 1990s, and his work has earned him both regional and worldwide praise.

The crux of this earning strategy is to spend some money and make a lot more, but these endeavors don’t always go as planned. Mike needs to find a buyer for each restored car, and not everyone is appreciative of older cars or the amount of work that has gone into them. As a result, sometimes the invested money is lost, which makes Hall’s day-to-day uncertain, and the show itself significantly more entertaining.

This reality TV series has already won five awards and been nominated for five more, taking home five Leo Awards in 2020, in the Best Screenwriting in an Information, Lifestyle or Reality Series, Best Picture Editing in an Information, Lifestyle or Reality Series, Best Cinematography in an Info Lifestyle or Reality Series, and Best Information, Lifestyle or Reality Program or Series categories. It won the Leo Award again in the last mentioned category in 2022, being nominated for four others then as well.

Hall’s passion for classic vehicles is evident in all of his work. He believes in bringing classic cars back to life with authentic techniques and parts, rather than using modern technology. His team also works hard to preserve the car’s history, rather than just restoring it to look new. This approach has earned Hall considerable praise from the classic car community.

Enter Mike Hall – from drilling to shilling

Also known as ‘Rasta Blasta’ due to his signature dread hairstyle, Michael Hall was born in Saint Boniface, Manitoba, Canada at some point in 1956. After being raised there, he moved to Kamloops in British Columbia for his father’s new job at CP Rail. Following in dad’s footsteps, the teenager quickly gained an interest in all things mechanical, working on the family car in the garage, and learning how other machinery functions.

Mike eventually moved out and started a slope stabilization business called Chimera Springs Rock Works, which he described as something akin to ‘hanging from cliffs and blowing shit up.’ He restored various rock face sculptures, and made sure to create safe environments wherever he took the work. With an eventually enviable income, Hall found time to relax and dedicate to his true passion.

He would spend weekends looking through old garages, junkyards and scrap yards searching for hidden gems he could restore. After several successful projects, Hall decided to move back to BC, and open Rust Bros Restorations. The shop was used to hoard and repair hundreds of muscle cars, which at some point grew to over 400.

The TV star initially had no intention of selling any of the cars, it was all a pure passion project. However, he came to the certain realization that made him shift away from just repairing and hoarding. According to theglobeandmail.com, he said ‘I’ll be 62 soon, my dad died at 60. I’ve seen buddies dying or running into health problems, leaving their families with all kinds of stuff to deal with. What are my wife and kids going to do with 400 cars in a field?’

As a result of thinking for the long term, in 2016 Hall decided it’d be best to part with everything he had worked for most of his life, offering his five-acre property in Tappen, BC, right off the Trans-Canada Highway, for $1.19 million total, with all the cars and the entire shop included.

Frustrated with practically no buyers for a year, Mike upped the ante and increased the price to $1.45 million in 2017, which seemed to reach the right ears. Suddenly, there was a sensational story about an older man from Canada selling a massive piece of land with hundreds of restored cars to boot.

Naturally, collectors from all over the world wanted a piece of the pie, and individual car orders began rushing in. Several production houses also caught wind of the news, scurrying to conjure up a contract that would secure Mike’s story and expertise for whoever they were going to pitch the documentary content to.

Matt Shewchuk and Tyson Hepburn from Mayhem Entertainment based in Vancouver eventually landed the deal, propelling a man at the end of his career into a life he never expected to have, with worldwide recognition and a loving, dedicated fanbase that has kept up with the series since day one, growing exponentially in the four years of the show running, which it will only continue to do.

The state of Mike Hall’s business

Not everything is sunshine and roses for the hardworking mechanic in Tappen, with numerous financial issues arising all the time. For example, there was a 1966 Lincoln Continental that Mike wanted to restore for just about $15,000, but it ended up costing a lot more for the whole process. The pain is then selling the car for enough money to make an actual profit, as buyers can be scarce, depending on the model.

Another such case was his praised Chevelle SS 396, which ended up being sold for only $10,000 – a value much lower than Hall’s intended $25,000 minimum. The only reason he took the offer was because it would at least let him keep the shop running, which is sometimes the best he can hope for.

Mike’s son Connor is rarely appreciative of his father’s spending habits, for example criticizing the decision to part with $2,000 for a metal-forming brake on the aforementioned 1966 Lincoln Continental. It was due to Hall junior’s pressure that the car was eventually sold for such a low price, as he believed it to be the best option they had.

Rust Valley Restorers | Mike Hall Q & A

Despite being the conductor of a band that pays him no attention, Mike still gets excited about all the great builds the Rust Bros have done over the years. What's been your favourite restoration throughout the show?Don't miss new episodes of #RustValleyRestorers Thursdays at 9pm ET. Also on STACKTV.

Posted by HISTORY on Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Rasta Blasta is joined by his long-time best friend Avery Shoaf, who seems to be a whiz for muscle car restoration. Mike said ‘I call Avery the ‘Muscle Car Moron’ but he’s unreal working on a car. A 1941 Dodge Power Wagon later in the series, he puts together in a week.’ Shoaf also owns his own restoration shop, which is set to appear in full swing in the fifth season of the series, offering a lot more variety to the fans.

The episodes generally feature one restoration each, although exceptions happen all the time as some vehicles take a lot longer to finish. It is usually split between one of Mike’s passion projects and then a customer’s particular order, with the latter generally being more difficult to accomplish, though at least there’s a guarantee of profit in that case.

Being generally old-fashioned, Mike never had much of an interest in modern cars to begin with, so almost every vehicle featured in the series boasts an old American build. These are the cars he enjoys working on because they remind him of childhood days when he first fell in love with the automotive world, while brand new machinery does little to seduce him.

What many wonder about “Rust Valley Restorers”

The question that most audience members ask when viewing most any reality TV series is ‘How much of it is real?’ With the premise of this particular series being rather simple and straightforward, it doesn’t seem like there’s room to fake most of what goes on in front of the camera. However, that conclusion is shaky at best.

Even Mike himself has revealed that not everything in “Rust Valley Restorers” is as it’s presented on the TV screen. As per the successful formula of reality television, some elements are overly dramatized or outright fake. He hasn’t specified what exactly isn’t real, but it was said that about 90% of the show is genuine.

What comes to mind when assuming what might have been inflated for larger viewership are perhaps the frequent clashes that Mike, Avery and Connor engage in throughout the episodes. It’s easy to pass a heated argument off as a natural occurrence, provided that the three operate in a high-pressure environment, with deadlines and potential financial loss looming over their heads the whole time.

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Here’s the kicker, though, as the anxiety still hasn’t gone down even with the show faring rather admirably around the world, and the three becoming richer than ever. It seems that their greatest prize is now the success of a job well-done and a fully satisfied customer, rather than the monetary incentive, which is a phenomenon that has enveloped the staff of many famous restoration shops across the US and Canada.

Whether out of genuine personal reasons or more thanks to the incentivization by the production crew, the trio continues to argue on a daily basis when performing any sort of work, although the hostility is nowhere near high enough to truly damage their bonds, so the fans can rest assured that the devoted team of “Rust Valley Restorers” will remain whole for more years to come.

Another element that could potentially be fake is the sheer luck that Avery or Mike sometimes seem to have while scouring junkyards for cars that are actually highly valuable in their restored states, for which collectors would pay exorbitant amounts even in the worst possible shape.

Such situations aren’t the most common of occurrences in the show, but they still raise suspicions among the more skeptical viewers. Still, with no one blowing whistles and negative gossip about the show being kept down to a minimum, rarely anyone questions the validity of most things that happen in Mike’s day-to-day on the set.

Keeping the business away from the family

As screenrant.com reported, Mike keeps everything related to “Rust Valley Restorers” a long distance off his family doorstep. The TV icon’s wife lives with their dog Minnie on a farm stretching across 26 acres. In spite of just how massive this property is, Hall is strictly forbidden by his better half from bringing any of the cars near it, no matter whether they’re rusted junk or shiny collection pieces.

Even after the show’s fourth and most successful season, Mike is still looking for a wise investor to take over the entire business so that he can retire and be with his wife. However, as everyone’s able to tell after over six years of this search, it may take a very long time before this dream materializes. Until then, the Rasta Blasta remains hard at work on the forefront of his lifelong obsession.

Mike’s life in late 2022

While Hall himself doesn’t really care about social media, his business can be found in several places on the internet, including Instagram. It’s mostly maintained by his son, who frequently posts selfies in various stages of his work routine. There are also various announcements and teasers to keep the hungry fans on the lookout for more content.

As the series is in the next stage of production in preparation for season five, Mike remains as busy as ever doing what he does best – restoring classic and vintage cars with his son and best friend. With Avery Shoaf now running his own restoration shop as well, a new sense of competition is likely to emerge as the TV series proceeds into 2023.

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